Last weekend I finally got to eat at one of my “must-try” places rather than just some place close by that looks as though they have good food – Lanes of London. The concept behind Lanes is to bring together the flavours of the four most well-known streets in London under one roof; Brick Lane for a curry, Edgware Road for food from the Middle East, Kingsland Road for Vietnamese and Portobello Road for good old British pub grub. They also offer several additional meat, fish and vegetarian options out with these themes.
I’d managed to snag a TimeOutLondon deal for £40 which entitled us to a sharing cocktail, five dishes from the main menu and two desserts. It was going to be a feast to remember! The cocktail was the easy part as there were only four to choose from two of which contained wine so were out for me!
Maharaja panch – Hennessy vsop, lime juice, ginger juice, pomegranate seed and aromatic tea. It was rather nice with a delicate spice to it and then a kick as you swallowed but at 250ml it was definitely too small to be considered a sharing cocktail in my opinion!
It took us a while but eventually we settled on the butter chicken with cumin rice and paranthas, confi duck hash with fried duck egg and HP sauce, crispy soft shell crab with fennel, chilli and apple salad, bun thit nuong (barbequed pork skewers) with rice noodle salad and the beef brisket sliders with roasted bone marrow.
First up were those skewers…
Now I’m not a huge pork lover. Don’t get me wrong give me a bacon sandwich and I’ll more than happily dig in but I do prefer white meats and fish to any other meats. I though that these would probably be my least favourite of our choices and I was right. These skewers were OK especially with some of that lovely sweet chilli sauce but I found the meat a bit chewy and tough. The rice noodle salad that came with it was bizarrely cold which I wasn’t expecting but once I was past the initial shock was actually rather nice especially when you got a nice crunchy bit of peanut mixed in there.
Next up was our seafood dish. I think the only other time I’ve had softshell crab has been at Yo! Sushi which lets face it never comes quite as beautifully presented as this.
The batter was light and crispy and the crab meat incredibly flavoursome once you bit in to it. There wasn’t really a whole lot of meat in it though especially when split between two of us. Again the accompaniment took me by surprise. I pretty much poohoo any mention of salad when it comes to eating out because lets face it, what is the point on missing out on something delicious for some boring old lettuce leaves but this was like no salad I had ever tried before.
Then we had the duck hash, one of the more inventive items on the menu!
I adore crispy duck but I’ve never been brave enough to try it any other way. I’m so glad I did though as this was truly exceptional. The egg was cooked to perfection and deliciously runny inside while the duck was to die for. It literally melted in your mouth and exploded with flavour. There was already a thin layer of HP sauce between the two and I chose not to add any more as I thought they had the amounts just right. My favourite course out of the mains and one I would recommend to anyone heading to Lanes.
The brisket sliders came next looking rather impressive on their wooden display board.
I was brave and tried a small spoon of the bone marrow but it wasn’t for me at all so I decided not to top my slider with it as our server suggested we should. The meat in these was incredibly succulent and whatever it was marinated in was a perfect accompaniment to the flavours. It did amuse me that all I could think about was Howard’s moms brisket from The Big Bang Theory.
The last of our main dishes was the butter chicken, I was kind of sad that this came out last as I was really struggling for room and we still had the puddings to come!
It was a great butter chicken dish but it was really overshadowed by some of the previous ones we had tried. It was creamy and smooth just as it should be and just as nice as any curry I’ve had on Brick Lane itself. The paranthas were different from what I expected. I love a good bit of naan bread but these were thinner and crispier so somehow felt heavier but maybe that was down to all the other food we’d had!
I could have happily eaten almost all of the desserts (including some of the most random ice cream flavours I’ve ever seen) that were on the menu but we decided to split the Valrhona chocolate torte and the Jammy Dodgers washed down with a nice cuppa. The fact that the menu also doubled as a postcard which the restaurant would post on your behalf was a great added touch too.
As with everything else the chocolate torte came beautifully presented on a board rather than a plate. The slice looked small but it packed a lot of punch and was actually just about perfect for someone who had eaten as much as we just had. The clotted cream ice-cream was amazing too and not too sickly, they worked well together.
The piece de resistance of the evening however had to be the incredible jammy dodgers. Wonderfully they came in their own little tin box. (I’ve since been informed on Twitter that they also do these bad boys to takeaway for hotel guests!)
If you didn’t think that it was possible for the humble jammie dodger to be improved upon then you were wrong, there were spectacular. Light shortbread encasing some of the best homemade jam and strawberry mousse I have ever tasted it was the perfect end to a lovely meal.
Lanes of London isn’t cheap but our deal made it excellent value for money and it’s really a great place if you want to make a good impression. It would be a great first date for foodies or perhaps for visitors to the UK who may not have time to sample many of the delights that London has to offer. The staff were knowledgable and attentive without being overbearing and the food was all excellent. I’m still dreaming about those damn jammy dodgers weeks later!
Lanes of London
140 Park Lane